What would Manhattan be without its parks? A concrete block on the edge of the Atlantic, sweltering in the summer, suffocating in the winters. We have the 1,700+ parks in NYC to thank for its fresh air and gorgeous green that make the big city feel like home all year round.
Count on Central Park
Perhaps the most expected, and central, part of any New York experience -- it is in (literally) all the movies after all. The setting is quintessential New York, with numbers that don’t lie: 843 acres, 25,000 trees, 7 bodies of water, 136 acres of woodlands, 58 miles of walking paths, 36 bridges and arches, 29 sculptures, 1 zoo, and an infinite amount of amenities; not to mention the annual data: 40 million tourists and 65 million dollar budget (a stable revenue of 6 figure rent per pushcart). We think it’s safe to say that its prestige is only accumulating more and more each year.
Since its birth in 1858, this iconic urban-park has been a part of Manhattanites’ everyday life. Central Park does not only survive the 4 seasons but transforms. Fall, with its decaying foliage, crisp air, and romantic walks, morphs into magnificent winters, with not 1, but 2 ice skating rinks and horse-drawn carriage rides, snow or no snow. However, it is the spring that is both extraordinary and enchanting as you watch the dead come back to life on the patio of the exquisite Loeb Boathouse restaurant while watching people begin to pollinate the lawns once again. As for the summer, it’s real party … probably to the charge of the ravishing heat, free pop concerts, and that ancient carousel (the oldest in the United States) that your kids love so darn much.
You see, Central Park is for everybody -- always has been, always will be.
Take your tour if …
- You (and your kids) like to stick to the classics
- You’re a numbers guy (or girl)
- Centrality is key
The High Line, above and beyond
They call it a linear park, which means that it is longer than it is wide (approximately 2,000x as long it is wide). In a large sense, this is what makes the park so unique -- and also because it was built on an old, elevated rail line, and host a pleasant array of opportunities for families and friends to enjoy a community space along the Hudson River.
Bordering the chic Chelsea neighborhood, the typical park activities proceed. In the mornings, visitors keep in shape by biking or jogging; young families stroll their babies in the early afternoon; and, of course, those looking for solitude come just before sunset for the tranquil ambiance, with a view of the water and Jersey City on the other side.
Alongside its coast are some unmissable points: Tiffany & Co. Foundation, a dramatic balcony from which can enjoy the view of the Meatpacking District and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and perhaps, have breakfast as well; and the Chelsea Piers, the trendiest recreational center in Manhattan and equipped with a Golf Club and Sky Ring, to glide like an angel (or learn how to) at some height. As for what to eat, Satina, the Italian eatery at the southernmost entrance, is a must for indulging in a carb overload. You'll have to refuel eventually.
Come play at the High Line if …
- Height over width
- Views over greenery
- You prefer the unusual to the usual
Bewildered by Brooklyn Bridge Park
The Brooklyn Bridge Park should be self-explanatory -- a park at the end of the landmark Brooklyn Bridge -- but it’s actually full of fun surprises.
Did you know that this park has the absolute best view of Manhattan’s skyline? The best not (only) because it is acrophobia-friendly, but because it is a true oasis so close yet so far away from the roar of the City, but still, it's so beautiful.
This park is good in the fall, better in the spring, but best in the summer (forget about winter). Throughout the scorching months, it’s nice to visit, even with the crowd. If not to revisit your childhood on its merry-go-round, or perhaps to play a pick-up soccer match on a Sunday evening, then to enjoy an outdoor movie showing, alone or with someone special.
Still, the best surprise of them all is … can you guess? Well, Brooklyn has transformed street food into a culinary art, and they’re not afraid to shout it at the Brooklyn Bridge Park: Grimaldi’s pizza is a l-e-g-e-n-d, the Garden Bar is d-i-v-i-n-e, and the Riverfront Cafe is g-e-n-i-u-s, all in an upscale kind of way.
And there’s still more; make your way to the Brooklyn Bridge Park to uncover the rest if …
- You’re acrophobic and proud, but still want to see what everyone else can see
- You like outdoors activities, but in moderation
- The best surprises are best experienced by your taste buds
Bryant Park for bookworms and more
One word: stunning; and in just the right proportions, too (just about 10 acres). Located in Midtown Manhattan, and also home to the historic and iconic New York Public Library (yes, the one where Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big were supposed to elope for the first time and subsequently broke-up for the millionth), it’s vibrant atmosphere is truly something special.
It’s very green and filled with food-stands and cafes, scattered with metal-chairs, and fluffed with pigeons. One thing is for sure, the park is always clean and always bustling, in part because of the tourist-heavy location, and in part because the park is the venue for many must-go events. For example, in the spring and summer, yoga sessions in the mornings and movie screenings in the evenings; and in the winter, there is a charming little Christmas market with high-quality vendors to get you in the holiday spirit. More often than not its intimate, green lawns call for a quick visit to the library, to reread the best of Whitman outside, in the place where it all began.
Take part in the vibrancy of Bryant Park if…
- You're a bookworm
- You want to be central without Central Park
- You can’t still envious of Carrie and here Vivienne Westwood gown